ABUJA (Reuters) - Gunmen killed three people in an attack on a mosque in the Nigerian town of Okene on Tuesday, a day after 19 were killed in gunfire at a church in the same town in a new outbreak of sectarian violence in central Nigeria, police said on Wednesday.
“There was a fresh attack yesterday at a mosque in Okene. Two soldiers died and another person in the crossfire,” Kogi State Police Commissioner Muhammed Katsina told Reuters.
On Monday, gunmen blocked the exits to the Deeper Life Church and fired at trapped worshippers, killing 19 people. The initial death toll was 16 but a further three died in hospital, authorities said.
Kogi State Governor Idris Wada ordered an all-night curfew in Okene and surrounding areas in an effort to stem the violence.
It was not clear who was behind the attacks but Islamist sect Boko Haram has attacked several churches and mosques this year. Security experts believe the sect wants to stoke a religious conflict inside Africa’s largest oil producer.
Kogi is further south than Boko Haram’s usual targets, which are focused in its northeast home base and other cities across the north, although the group’s threat is spreading.
The sect has killed hundreds this year in its insurgency against President Goodluck Jonathan’s government. It wants to have an Islamic state inside Nigeria, a country of more than 160 million split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims.
In February, Boko Haram claimed a prison break in Kogi state when 119 prisoners were freed.
Reporting by Anamesere Igboeroteonwu; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Roger Atwood